Homicide in Puerto Rico

Topics: Crime, Police, Puerto Rico Pages: 11 (3345 words) Published: December 12, 2011
Sheila M. Kiger

SOC-291

Sept. 2011

Homicide in Puerto Rico

Table of Contents

Abstract 3

History 4

Comparison of violent crime in Puerto Rico and the mainland 5

Comparison of Homicide Rates Between Puerto Rico and the Mainland 6

Figure 1 7

Lethality of Aggravated Assault in Puerto Rico and the Mainland 7

Possible Causes for High Lethality of Aggravated Assault in Puerto Rico 8 Gangs 10 Sudden murder rise in 2011 11 Conclusion 11 References 12

Abstract

The specific aims of this paper are to (a) compare rates and trends of homicide between Puerto Rico and the mainland during 1980-2005 and (b) explore possible reasons for differences in homicide rates and trends between Puerto Rico and the mainland.

History

Puerto Rico is one of the jurisdictions of the United States with the highest levels of violent crime. Although it is an autonomous territory, Puerto Rico is under the direct jurisdiction of the federal government. The island has legal and political institutions and practices that are very similar to those on the mainland. This is no coincidence, as many of them were either imposed by the United States or copied later by the Puerto Rican elite.

A recent U.S. Department of Justice report found that police are arresting suspects for only 43 percent of the island's homicides, making it the only U.S. jurisdiction where fewer than half of all homicides lead to an arrest. The island's rate of homicide arrests has plummeted since hitting 60 percent in the late '80s and early '90s.The U.S. national average is 66 percent, according to the federal report on the island's police force, which accuses authorities of illegal killings, corruption and widespread civil rights violations(Unsolved murder mysteries 2011).

An empirical assessment of Puerto Rico’s rate of violent crime deserves scrutiny for at least two reasons. First, owing to the paucity of primary data on violent crime in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico gets excluded from analysis of violent crime in the United States (Gould, Weinberg, & Mustard, 2002; Mocan & Rees, 2005; PetersonKrivo, & Hagan, 2006; Wilson & Petersilia, 1995). As a result, we have a poor understanding of violent crime in one of the presumably deadliest places of the United States. Second, Puerto Rico provides an ideal laboratory to examine the possible link between (a) poverty and socioeconomic and political marginality and (b) violent crime. Puerto Rico was the poorest region of the United States during the 20th century (Lefort, 2000). Puerto Rico has a large and growing informal economy (Valdés, Caram, & Godoy, 2006). Partly in response to chronically high unemployment (Rivera-Batiz & Santiago, 1996) and persistent poverty, Puerto Rico has received commensurate federal transfers during the 20th century (Collins, Bosworth, & Soto-Class, 2006). Trías Monge (1999) calls Puerto Rico the world’s oldest colony because people in Puerto Rico cannot vote in presidential or congressional elections. The combination of poverty, unemployment, political marginality, and drug trafficking during the 1980s (Montalvo-Barbot, 1997)...


References: United States (Gould, Weinberg, & Mustard, 2002; Mocan & Rees, 2005; PetersonKrivo, & Hagan, 2006; Wilson & Petersilia, 1995). As a result, we have a poor
understanding of violent crime in one of the presumably deadliest places of the
(b) violent crime. Puerto Rico was the poorest region of the United States during the
20th century (Lefort, 2000)
(Valdés, Caram, & Godoy, 2006). Partly in response to chronically high unemployment
(Rivera-Batiz & Santiago, 1996) and persistent poverty, Puerto Rico has
received commensurate federal transfers during the 20th century (Collins, Bosworth,
& Soto-Class, 2006)
drug trafficking during the 1980s (Montalvo-Barbot, 1997) might lead one to expect
more violent crime in Puerto Rico than on the mainland
In sum, the trend on the mainland of improvements in most types of violent
crimes starting in the early 1990s (Levitt, 2004; Zimring, 2006) can also be seen in
Puerto Rico with the decline of aggravated assault, robbery, and rape. For all these
crimes, and for others not discussed here (e.g., youth violence; Vélez, 2003), Puerto
Hirsch, 2002). All else held constant, one expects the same number of deaths to result
from the same number of aggravated assaults across regions (Boyum et al., 1996).
1980-1990, the average lethality ratio in Puerto Rico reached 0.06/year but during
the next 15 years (1991-2005) it almost tripled to 0.16/year
Contrary to what some policy makers in Puerto Rico say (Goodnough, 2003), these
statistics suggests that Puerto Rico does not face a shortage of police compared to
We lack hard evidence on variables likely to affect the emergency response time
of police in Puerto Rico, but Rosa (2005) suggests that the police in Puerto Rico may
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